My husband and I hope to raise generous kids. So, we’re working on a once-a-month strategy of noticing a need in front of us and jumping in to help. July made me laugh.
This month my friend was running a half-marathon to raise money to provide clean water for people in Africa. Her kids and mine are friends, so when I told my boys what their friend’s mom was doing we were totally in for contributing financially and praying for her. She recently had her fourth son so I was pretty inspired by her determination; she could be running for almost any cause I would’ve been “in.”
The night before the race, I gathered my little boys before bedtime and said, “Our friend’s race is tomorrow. Let’s pray for her tonight.”
My boys looked at me confused.
Me: You know how we have been working on giving more once a month for almost a year now?
Oldest Son (with a longer pause than I would have liked): Yes.
Middle Son: No.
My youngest son was not even acting interested.
Me (to my middle son): Don’t you remember at Christmas giving clean water and money for a small business loan for women through World Vision?
Middle Son: No
Me: Praying for orphans?
Middle Son: No
Me: What about grocery shopping for the food pantry?
Middle Son: No
Oldest Son: Working at Feed My Starving Children?
Middle Son: Oh yes – I remember that.
Me: Going to IKEA to get kitchen stuff for orphans aging out of foster care?
Middle Son: No.
I gaped at my beautiful middle son.
Middle Son: I do remember watching kids play basketball and eating cookies. (At an adoption fundraiser.)
My goodness. I laughed (then maybe cried a little bit inside) as I wrapped my arms around my son. “Well, at least you remember two of the things we’ve done.”
Then, I noticed that my youngest son is not sitting with us anymore. His disinterest has turned into him just disappearing. I scan the room and see him climbing up to the top of the dresser because his toothbrush is up there.
Not one to embrace calmness as my first option, I freak out because furniture falls on little climbing children. I’d recently read an article about a dresser that fell on a small child, and he didn’t survive. My brain usually goes to worst-case scenarios. It’s delightful.
Jumping up, I grab him off the dresser, sit him in on my lap and try and refocus my three sons.
“Okay, boys, let’s pray for our friend running tomorrow. Let’s pray for endurance and energy and safety. Kids, let’s also pray people to continue to be generous and give.”
Middle son, “Mom, I want to pray for a different friend’s mom who is also running.”
Me searching my brain. I can’t remember any other mom friend in a half-marathon.
Me: “Who are you talking about?”
Middle Son: “You know, Jay’s mom. She’s running for office.”
Oh my, all the goodness. We do have a mom friend who has been campaigning hard for everyone’s vote. “Yup, we can pray for her too.”
My son’s lack of remembering made me laugh (and caused a few more grey hairs to grow in), but it also made me think. If we’ve been working on this for almost a year and one of my sons is having trouble remembering what we are doing, maybe I am not speaking to his heart as much as I thought I was. I know he is just a little boy, so I don’t want to make too big of a deal of his funny complete loss of memory moment, but still, it is causing me to reflect.
Maybe next month, they will choose what we do without my guidance. Then, would they feel more personally invested in our mission? Will they hear God’s nudge in their heart to choose a place to serve or give?
Or maybe – just maybe, my middle son is not totally off in his forgetfulness. Maybe he just understands the meaning of this quote better than I do:
“Always give without remembering. Always receive without forgetting.” (Brian Tracey)
I need to think and pray about this.
Raise generous kids. Read more about our once-a-month giving strategy.
“The benefits of actively fostering children’s charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped ‘gimme’ impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone’s life. ‘And as corny as it sounds,’ says Patricia Schiff Estess, a New York City writer and the author of (Amazon affiliate link) Kids, Money & Values, ‘when you help a child help others, you are helping to create a better world.'”
That lesson floating around our home for a year? Yes, please.
So, we started what we’re calling the “Once a Month” strategy. Each month, we looked for a way to give, and very often, it involves just noticing what’s already in front of us. (Convenient!)
Here’s how the once-a-month giving strategy rolled out:
If you decide to take use this giving strategy, remember this is YOUR THING. Do what God places on YOUR HEART. Whatever works, big or little. Your family will be moved by however you decide to extend your hand. And hopefully, so will the people you give to.
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.